Stocks Extend Losses Amid Little Progress on Cliff

U.S. stocks ended sharply lower ON Friday as negotiations to avert steep spending cuts and tax hikes in the new year showed little progress. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 158.20 points, or 1.21%, to 12,938.11, leaving it off 1.9% from the week-ago close. The S&P 500 index declined 15.67 points, or 1.10%, to 1,402.43, also down 1.9% for the week. The Nasdaq Composite shed 25.60 points, or 0.86%, to 2,960.31, with the index tallying a 2% weekly decline.

President Barack Obama is not making a new ‘fiscal cliff’ offer at his high-stakes meeting with congressional leaders at the White House. President Barack Obama is holding firm on a tax break only for families making up to $250,000 a year, CNBC learned Friday.

Contracts for U.S. home resales hit a 2-1/2-year high in November and factory activity in the Midwest expanded this month. The National Association of Realtors said on Friday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 1.7 percent to 106.4 – the highest level since April 2010 when the home-buyer tax credit expired.
The union for longshoremen along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico has agreed to extend its contract for 30 days, averting a possible strike that could have crippled operations at ports that handle about 40 percent of all U.S. container cargo, a federal mediator announced Friday.

U.S. auto sales are expected to show a rise of 9 percent for December, capping off the best year for the industry since 2007, fueled by easier access to credit, rising home prices and pent-up demand.

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